Saturday, 27 September 2014

Woman Hater (1948)
Stewart Granger

The title, the year and the fact that it stars Stewart Granger, might lead one to believe this is one of the grand ‘Gainsborough gothics’ in which James Mason appears as the misogynistic lead and Granger is on hand to rescue Phyllis Calvert from his evil hands.

It’s not. Instead ‘Woman Hater’ is a rather unusual British romantic comedy: unusual because, quite simply, it doesn’t feel like a British comedy at all.

It’s the story of a British aristocrat, Lord Terence Datchett (Stewart Granger) ...
Stewart Granger
...who has a less than favourable view of women and claims he will never marry. This is a man who likes his brandy in large glasses …

Stewart Granger

… and his coffee in small cups;

Stewart Granger

When a French movie star Colette Marly (Edwige Feuillère) ...
Edwige Feuillère
 ...arrives in London in search of solitude, Granger is convinced she is merely playing the ‘I want to be alone’ game whilst actually desperately seeking publicity. He makes a wager with a friend, claiming that he can unmask her and invites her to stay at his home ‘whilst he is away’ so that she can find sanctuary in his country home. Naturally, this being a romantic comedy, he pretends to be a member of the estate staff and gradually – after a series of comic mishaps – they fall in love. It’s a story that’s as old as the hills.

Edwige Feuillère & Stewart Granger

Edwige Feuillère & Stewart Granger
The film is funny but it’s nothing that one hasn’t seen before. The novelty is simply that British comedies of the post-war period don’t usually follow this course. When one thinks of British comedy, one thinks of something bawdier or something with a hapless male lead: think Ian Carmichael as a well-meaning young man out his depth pursuing the sophisticated movie star. However, with Stewart Granger as the suave, immaculately attired leading man, the obvious reference point is US comedy. Or more accurately, a late 1930s screwball comedy. Replace Granger with Cary Grant, make him the heir to a railroad fortune with a Van-something-or-other surname, living in the vast family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, and you can just picture it. Throw in Greta Garbo as the foreign movie star who ‘wants to be alone’ (or any rising female star playing a comedy version of Garbo) and you have ‘Woman Hater’ in a nutshell.

And it's a rare chance to see Granger playing for laughs:


Maybe that’s why this is such a seldom seen film: It’s out of place and doesn’t fit easily into any category. But so what, here at ‘Rank & File’ we don’t care about such things. We’re too busy noticing that Stewart Granger is fantastically dressed:

One thing about Granger is that it’s clear he was deeply interested in his clothes. He knew what he wanted and dresses like a man who spent a lot of time at his tailors. It always appears that Granger either wore his own suits in films of this period, or worked closely with the costume department to ensure he dressed as he felt comfortable. Even when he wears a wide shouldered suit, or the style so prevalent in post-war Britain, he has it cut with a neat waist, much more fitted than most of the suits that became common in this period.



Similarly, in other films in the mid to late 1940s, he wears jackets with lapels much narrower than standard 1940s cuts. There is something strikingly modern about his clothes, so much so that at times he looks slightly out of period. In ‘Waterloo Road’ when he plays a wartime spiv, his suit is cut with relatively narrow lapels, completely unlike any other interpretation of a cinematic criminal. In ‘The Lamp Still Burns’ Granger wears a neat, narrow lapel suit that makes one think of the 1950s rather than the mid-1940s. He also wears a narrow cut suit with a flap on the breast pocket, almost like an early example of the ‘New Edwardian’ look that arrived in the late-1940s and slowly transformed in the ‘Teddy Boy’ look.

And, for those who like such odd details, here’s Stewart Granger wearing a heavy corduroy dressing gown … 
Stewart Granger

… it’s the same one that he wore in ‘Adam & Evelyne’:
Stewart Granger in 'Adam & Evelyne'
It's also worth noting that Edwige Feuillere looks much youger with her worn down than pinned up, as she has it for most of the film:
Edwige Feuillere

Edwige Feuillere
Let's have a look at the rest of the cast:
Ronald Squire as Lord Datchett's butler who steals his master's cigars and hides them in a semolina jar ..

... and keeps the whisky hidden in the bread bin.

He's a target of the affections of Claire, played by Jeanne De Casalis, Colette's assistant:

Irene Handl and Peter Bull appear as a couple of villagers:

James Hayter and Dandy Nicholls work on Lord Datchett's estate:

Vida Hope plays an autograph hunter:

Twenty nine year old Graham Moffat appears as a schoolboy:

Michael Medwin is Colette's 'wide boy' manager:

And, naturally, Miles Malleson is the local vicar.
Rarely seen these days, but it's available as part of the Stewart Granger boxset:


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